UWS, St. Scholastica expect hockey rivalry to continue despite conference changesDriving a few miles over an interstate bridge for a hockey game makes sense. St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior have been doing so for 40 years and 126 games. But will they play in 2013-14?
Driving a few miles over an interstate bridge for a hockey game makes sense. St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior have been doing so for 40 years and 126 games.
The schools open the 2012-13 men’s season with a series Friday and Saturday at Wessman Arena in Superior.
But will they play in 2013-14?
The Northern Collegiate Hockey Association men’s league is breaking up after this winter — the five Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools (including UWS) are creating a WIAC hockey conference, while St. Scholastica and St. Norbert College of DePere, Wis., are joining the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association.
St. Scholastica coach Mark Wick and Dan Stauber of UWS say the rivalry will continue.
“We’d never not play each other,” said Stauber, a Duluth native, entering his 13th season with a 218-86-49 record.
The Saints and Yellowjackets are expected to meet a minimum of one game next season if interlocking schedules are arranged among the WIAC, MCHA and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The 10-team MCHA will have 18 league games and the five-team WIAC 12 conference games. Interlocking games would fill much of the remainder of the schedules. Division III schools are allowed 25 regular-season games.
“Our hope is to play UWS at least once a year,” said Wick, 142-123-31 in 13 seasons as a head coach, the last eight at St. Scholastica.
Rivalry numbers favor UWS 82-35-9, although the past five years show the Yellowjackets with an edge of just 7-5-5. As the 32nd NCHA season begins, UWS is picked fourth among seven teams and St. Scholastica sixth in a vote of league coaches.
In 2011-12, St. Scholastica (15-8-5) was second in the league and just missed being picked for the NCAA playoffs. UWS (10-10-7) was fifth in the NCHA. Two-time defending Division III champion St. Norbert is again the league favorite.
“We thought we had a good season’s resume and our players ended the year with a sour taste,” said Wick. “We’ve brought some new players in to join a good senior class, which has raised our competitive level.”
St. Scholastica’s top two scorers return, seniors Brett Corcoran and Tyler Miller, along with junior Brandon Nowakowski, and junior goalie Colin Rundell is back after playing in 25 of 28 games last season. All are Canadians.
Among the newcomers are Nowakowski’s brother, Dylan, a forward, and forward Keegan Bruce and defenseman Hunter Bergerson of Duluth.
UWS is starting the season without junior goalie Drew Strandberg of Thunder Bay, Ontario, sidelined with an injury. Freshman Dennis Nordmark of Sweden is expected to start today. The team’s strength is a good defensive corps led by junior Jeff Forsythe and senior Derek Stauber (the coach’s nephew). Top scorers Pat Dalbec of Superior and Kyle Leahy also return. UWS looks to improve on a scoring average of 2.67 goals a game in 2011-12.
“We have to play good defensive hockey and not get into an (offensive) horse race with anyone,” said Dan Stauber.
UWS was 1-0-2 versus St. Scholastica last season.
Sandelin stresses better puck possession
Minnesota Duluth opens its final season in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association on Friday against Wisconsin at 7:07 p.m. at Amsoil Arena. The No. 14-ranked Bulldogs (2-2) are coming off consecutive series splits with Central Collegiate Hockey Association teams Ohio State and Notre Dame.
UMD beat No. 9 Notre Dame 3-1 and lost 4-1 last Thursday and Friday in South Bend, Ind.
“We turned the puck over too much and that has to improve or we’ll be in trouble,” UMD coach Scott Sandelin said this week. “You have to take care of the puck and not give it up for no reason, pure and simple.
“Our intensity was good (in Friday’s loss) and we weathered a storm, but then in a matter of five minutes, we made two mistakes and were down 2-0. We gave them four easy goals.”