Monday, October 22, 2007

Live in South Bend (Trois)

Notre Dame is a truly amazing place. The campus of the University of Notre Dame is enormous (when comparing it to the size of the University of Denver's campus that is). I had to opportunity to visit the bookstore on campus. It is mind boggling...Two floors full of Notre Dame apparrel, text books, and souvenirs. We spent two and half hours (and countless dollars) in that store. Afterwords we ate on campus at the Legends of Notre Dame restaurant. A marked difference I've noticed at Notre Dame is that there's an amazing sense of tradition and preserving those traditions. Everywhere you go, you're faced with something uniquely Irish. The Legends of Notre Dame restaurant is an example of the preservation of tradition. You are surrounded by the greatest moments in Notre Dame sports history, including a video that shows those great moments. The food was superb and service was good. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone visiting Notre Dame.

To cap off my weekend, I had the great pleasure of attending the Notre Dame/USC game. Although Notre Dame lost (38-0), I enjoyed the experience tremendously. I say experience because, when you're in Notre Dame stadium, it's not just about the game, it's about the whole package. We sat directly behind the Notre Dame band, close to the student section, 6 rows from the field. There just aren't words to explain what it was like to sit (or rather I should say stand, as we stood for most of the game, like all the rest of the fans) with 80,000 screaming fans. The student section alone was louder than all of Magness Arena on a good night. The best I can do to share this experience with you is to share my pictures. Please enjoy a slideshow of my trip to South Bend. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will always remember fondly. I want to thank the people of South Bend, who were the most gracious, kind people I’ve ever met, and who made my trip truly remarkable.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Live in South Bend (Deux)

Tonight the #5 Pioneers did what they should have done last night! They beat the #11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 3-1 for a split of the weekend series. Overall, DU looked much better, especially in the second period. There appeared to be no lapse in focus tonight as the Pioneers put together a great game. Freshman defenseman Chris Nutini scored his first goal as a Pioneer with a wicked shot from the point at 15:55 of the first period. The Irish tied up the game at 10:55 of the second as Jesse Martin sat in the penalty box for instigating. It should be noted Tyler Ruegsegger was also in the box however; Notre Dame received a coincidental minor, as there was a scrum around the Notre Dame goal. Anthony Maiani scored the game winner at 12:24 of the second. Finally Tom May rounded out the scoring with an empty netter at 19:43, scoring his first of the season.

A change in tonight’s game atmosphere was the addition of the Notre Dame (or at least a small part of it) Band. Please enjoy the clips below!

Notre Dame Band and Student Section

Notre Dame Fight Song

Notre Dame Band Marches to the Football Pep Rally

On a completely personal side note, this post is the 100th post on Hockey in Colorado!! Thanks to MeganDU and PiosAvsFan for helping me reach this milestone. I look forward to the many posts come.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Live in South Bend

That’s right folks, I’m in South Bend, Indiana, home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Briefly, let’s talk about the Denver Pioneers 4-3 loss to the Fighting Irish. I thought DU came out very strong in the first period, as evidenced by the early goal (1:42 of the first period) from Freshman Kyle Ostrow. As the game wore on however, it seemed the Pioneers lost a little of that intensity. Notre Dame’s Garrett Regan evened up the score on the Power Play at 18:10. Then Tyler Bozak puts the Pios up again at 19:15, though from my vantage point that goal was deflected by an Irish defenseman.

What was a poor ending to the first period became an almost disastrous second period. Once again the Pioneers seemed to lose all focus on drive in the second period (something that I’m sure many of you will remember plagued the Pios last season). Notre Dame led the play almost entirely through the second scoring two goals, taking a 3-2 lead into the final period.

Directly after the end of the second, it was announced that all spectators needed to evacuate the arena as a Tornado warning had been issued for the South Bend area. After a short sojourn into a more protected area of the arena, the fans were allowed back to their seats with no delay in the game.

The final period saw Notre Dame score a final time, in what can best be described as a dirty manner. There was quite clearly goalie interference as Peter Mannino had a stick to his neck, but after replay, the refs sided with Notre Dame. Brock Trotter scored the final goal for DU, just 32 seconds after the questionable Notre Dame goal. Despite several late period Power Plays, the Pioneers were unable to even the score, leaving the ice after a scrum in the corner involving Captain Andrew Thomas.

Overall, I think a key issue is that the Pioneers need to work hard for a full 60 minutes. They possesses great strength and speed, but they have been unsuccessful at keeping up their intensity throughout a game. Also, the penalty kill MUST improve. Notre Dame converted on 3 of their 4 Power Plays. Not to mention this was seen last weekend briefly as the only goal Mannino allowed versus Maine came on a Power Play. I think Mannino has been making great first efforts but the support of his team has been lacking on clearing the rebounds and ensuring he doesn’t have to make second and third saves.

I think if DU can play a full 60 minutes the way they played the first 10 minutes of tonight’s game, Notre Dame is a beatable team. If they continue to struggle in the second period and become lazy, we could see a similar result as tonight.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's Avalanche Season!

These days I’m working nights Sunday through Thursday. Needless to say in the two weeks since the Avalanche season has started, I have watched ZERO games lives. I have however, been diligently taping them for my viewing pleasure and so have seen ALL five games the Avalanche have played. Here’s a short review of the beginning of their season.

Game One: vs. Dallas 10/3/2007
-Paul Stastny scored his first career Hat trick leading the Avalanche in a 4-3 win over the Stars.
-The Avs showed their rust, allowing 2 power play goals by the Stars in the third period. I’m still not convinced Peter Budaj should be the man in the net; however Jose Theodore was busy rehabbing his knee.
-Jaroslav Hlinka…welcome to the show. He finished the night with two assists while playing on a line with Stastny and Andrew Brunette.

Game Two: at Nashville 10/4/2007
-One word, Painful. As in, it was painful to watch this game.
-The Avalanche outshot the Predators 35 to 32 in the 0-4 loss.
-Tyler Weiman replaced Budaj at the 4:14 mark of the third period after the 4th Nashville goal. He saved all 10 shots he faced. Congratulations to Tyler for his first NHL game.

Game Three: vs. San Jose 10/7/2007
-The Avalanche scored 4 third period goals to beat the Sharks 6-2.
-Stastny scored 1 goal (the game winner) and tallied 4 assists.
-Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk, Marek Svatos, and Ryan Smyth all scored their first goals of the season.

Game Four: at St. Louis 10/12/2007
-Jose Theodore made his first start of the season in the 1-4 loss to the Blues. He saved 19 of the 23 shots he faced. Overall I thought he looked solid, though he still seems to be having the problem of letting shots leak through him. While he’s excellent at making the first save, he needs work on his rebound control as he still cannot seem to make the second and third saves.
-Stastny scored the only goal for the Avalanche. Proving there’s no such thing as a Sophomore Slump as far as he’s concerned.
-Manny Legace’s insane record against the Avalanche continues as he is now 12-1 all time against the Avs. I think it’s safe to say (much to my chagrin), he pwns the Avs...

Game Five: vs. Columbus 10/13/2007
-“Super” Joe Sakic led the Avs with a Hat trick in the 5-1 win over the Blue Jackets.
-Scott Hannan garnered his first assist in an Avalanche uniform.
-Overall, the Avs played well, especially considering Pascal Leclaire, Columbus’ goalie was coming in with a two game shutout streak.

In conclusion, what the heck is going on with road games?!? The Avalanche have scored just one goal in 6 periods of road play. Meanwhile, they have scored 15 goals at home. There’s definitely a disconnect somewhere and I fervently hope they figure out what’s going on soon as they begin a four game road trip on 10/19 after they face Calgary at the Pepsi Center this Tuesday. Paul Stastny is leading the Avalanche with 10 points. He is tied for second in the league for points and goals (5), and tied for 10th in assists (5). According to the Hockey News, he’s on track for an 82 goal, 82 assist, 164 point season!! In comparison, Sidney Crosby is on track for a 41 goal, 41 assist, 82 point season…not that that really means anything, it just makes me feel good…Overall, I think the Avs have been looking pretty good. They seem to be gelling as a team and fitting into their systems well. The key is winning on the road and continuing to win at home, but I think they’re in good position to make a substantial playoff run.

Let the games begin…

So I’ve been busy what with school starting, the fall calling cycle starting, my boss quitting, etc. Hopefully things will slow down a little bit soon, so needless to say, this will be quick.

DU swept Maine this weekend in a big way. Friday night Senior Goaltender Peter Mannino posted his 10th career shutout in a 2-0 win over the Black Bears. Admittedly, I thought the Pioneers should have been better on Friday. Even though the Black Bears’ flight arrived at DIA at midnight of game day and they players didn’t arrive at their hotel until 2am, Maine was able to keep the Pioneers to only 2 goals. Ben Bishop was a huge in goal for Maine both literally, as he stands at 6’7” 210 lbs, and figuratively. He faced 48 shots over the course of the game, which should have been enough to garner him at least 3rd star recognition but wasn’t. Tyler Ruegsegger scored the first goal of the 2007-2008 season 5:46 into the second period, assisted by Chris Butler. At 19:42, Kyle Ostrow scored his first goal as a Pioneer, assisted by Ruegsegger and Butler. Both goals came on the Power Play.

Speaking of penalties, let me take a second to comment on the new two refs/two linesmen system the WCHA is trying out this year. Overall, I think it’s a great move for college hockey as it prepares an increasing number of young men to play in the NHL. It didn’t seem to me that there were more penalties called, but there was definitely better coverage and fewer true penalties fell through the cracks. That being said, I did think Adam swallowed his whistle a bit in favor of Maine towards the end of the game on Saturday night in an effort to “even things out.” Friday night Maine was called for 9 penalties for 18 minutes, while Denver was called for 5 penalties for 10 minutes. Saturday night Maine was called for 5 penalties for 10 minutes, while Denver was called for 7 penalties for 14 minutes. Something is definitely fishy here.

Back to the games, Saturday night saw DU sweep the series in a much better matched 3-1 win over Maine. There was a marked difference in how Maine played Saturday night; they were faster and stronger, however I thought DU matched them in intensity and acquitted themselves very well. Brock Trotter scored just 6 seconds into the game. At 3:49, Maine scored their only goal of the weekend on a 5-on-3 Power Play as Senior Captain Andrew Thomas and Assistant Captain Chris Butler sat in the box. This seemed to be a trend of the evening, as they would visit the box two more times each, which brought up questions of leadership on the USCHO Board. Jesse Martin and Anthony Maiani scored the other two goals for the Pioneers, Martin’s assisted by Ruegsegger and Patrick Mullen, Maiani’s unassisted.

My star of the weekend would be Tyler Ruegsegger. He ended the weekend 1-2—3 and was not assessed any penalties. He worked hard throughout and showed a maturity beyond his years.

That’s all I’ve got for now. With any luck, a discussion of the Colorado Avalanche’s new season will follow…