Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tigers Get Only One Point From Tech

For the second straight year, the Tigers are struggling to start off the second half of the season - taking only one point from a team that CC has dominated in recent years. This time around, the Tigers' pairwise ranking may not be solid enough to withstand the hit. The one point weekend has dropped the Tigers to 14th in the pairwise rankings - the tournament bubble, and with a tough road remaining. The Tigers failed to get a win on the weekend despite allowing only three goals, and CC's normally potent power play was held to 1-8 in the series. The disappointing weekend leaves CC at 4th in the WCHA standings, one point ahead of surging North Dakota.

The Tigers still have not swept a series since taking on Denver in early December, despite not having played any top teams in the time since. The next three series for CC will be key not only for determining WCHA standing but also determining just how good this team really is. The Tigers next three opponents are:


@ St. Cloud State
@ St. Cloud State


Wisconsin went .500 in January but did notch impressive shutout wins over Minnesota and Denver. St. Cloud State kept up their impressive run this month with the exception of a one point series at Minnesota State-Mankato. Minnesota has really been struggling after getting off to a remarkable start. They opened the month of January with a sweep of Mankato before dropping their first game in months at Wisconsin. That led to them going 2-4 in their last six games, and recently suffering a home sweep at the hands of North Dakota. All three of these teams have proven to be beatable, but all three present big challenges for CC in the coming weeks. The Tigers need wins - and lots of them - to maintain their spot in the NCAA tournament.


* Here's an interesting discussion of CC's PWR possibilities down the road.

* The Tigers picked up another recruit recently. This time it's Mr. Rylan Schwartz, a recruit for either the 2008 or 2009 season, coming from Notre Dame of the SJHL (same team as freshman Kris Fredheim).

* A look at the new pairwise rankings. Denver and North Dakota are really coming on strong all of a sudden, while Maine and Minnesota seem to be stumbling.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Miss me? Didn't think so

Well, I'm finally back from my fabulous cruise. I'll do another post later on when I get pictures and such sorted out. Needless to say, I'm rested, relaxed and not quite as tan as I would have liked to be. The wifey insisted that I put on SPF 900 so I actually got whiter the longer I was out in the sun. It was like being covered with White-Out. Anyway, let's see what went on with the Bucks (I'll get to the Badgers another day).

The Bucks were on a tear in December and got over .500 they were the darlings of the NBA for a while. Teams got destroyed by overplaying Redd and Williams as Bogut and Patterson were playing at an otherworldly level. Some even suggested that Stotts was to be credited for this, he shouldn't be. It was the team chemistry that was getting into full swing, players were getting comfortable in their roles. This is a young team and they needed time to gel. Then their #1 and #2 threats went down.

Now the Bucks are predictably atrocious. I wrote back on the 9th of this month that after Redd's injury, this season was over. The Bucks losing 9 of their last 10 since then and neither Redd or Mo due back for another couple of weeks. But, I believe that I spoke too soon and was too pessimistic. "He got too much sun on his trip" you may say, but that's not it. Why the turnaround you may asj? I'll give you 5 reasons:

1 - Earl Boykins. This little fireball is a nightmare for opposing teams. Who the hell can guard him? Nobody. He's too fast. He's also a scoring machine since the trade. He's dropping almost 20/game since the trade. 20! Holy crap did we get a steal on this from Denver. What are teams going to do when Redd, Mo and Earl are on the floor? You cannot guard that much offense, especially when Earl and Mo attack the hoop as they do. Plus, he can come in for Williams and the Bucks lose nothing on offense.

2 - Charlie Bell. He's been put into more minutes with Redd gone and he's been hot and cold. He seems to be forcing his shot too much, but I believe that when his role is reduced, he'll slip into more of a comfort zone as he won't feel as much pressure. He's learning the limits of his game now and that is going to help him immensely. He's still a solid sub and good defender.

3 - Charlie Villanueva. He drops a double double in his first game back from injury in 30 minutes of action. With Skinner getting so much time while Charlie was out, they form a very solid #4 duo. Charlie has more ability to get that tough inside prescence to aid Bogut.

4 - These 3 players help make a much deeper quality bench for the Bucks. The Bucks can now go 3-4 players deep on the bench and still have a good unit out there at all times.

5 - The Bucks are still in the East. At a sad 17-26 record and losing 10 of their last 12, they are only 3 games out of the #8 playoff spot. If they can hold on and win a few until Redd and Mo come back, this team could explode through the Conference. Nobody will have as much offensive firepower as they will. The Bucks have only scored over 100 1 time in the last 9 games since the dynamic duo went down. The Bucks will assuredly score over 100 on an almost nightly basis when they come back. Their record when they score over 100 pts? 14-8, that's a 63.6 winning percentage. With Boykins and Bell coming off the bench, I would say that we could raise this % up to 67% over the final 30 games that Redd and Mo likely will be back for, the Bucks could very well get into the playoffs and be peaking at the right time.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I needed this

The first picture is how I'm getting to the second picture. Mrs. Cheesehead and myself (along with my parents and sister and her husband) are going on a cruise from Saturday until next Thursday. My parents retired recently and this is their way of celebrating. First time for all of us to be on a cruise, so it should be interesting and I'm quite looking forward to it. Given there's about 4 inches of snow on the ground and with temps in the teens here, I think it's the right time to leave. Big thanks to my mother-in-law for watching our kids and getting them to school while we're gone.

Oh, and it will be upper 70's to low 80's while we are there. And sun, lots and lots of warm sun. Yes, I may be rubbing this in, but so would any of you reading this if you were going.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

We're #2, or is it #3?

The Badgers B-Ball team is at it's highest ranking, well, ever. The latest polls have them at #2 in the AP and #3 in the coaches poll. Either way, it's a view Bucky rarely looks from.

Tonight, the Badgers get a home win... err game against the Purdue Boilermakers. The Badgers are 40-2 in Big Ten regular season play at home. Somehow I think that Purdue is not going to be the team to add that 3rd loss.

Can't Purdue update their name? I mean it's so 19th century and they need to get with the times. I've got a great one for them. The Purdue Opossums. They share all the same qualities: roll over and play dead when danger comes, they stink and generally get run over a lot. See, it's perfect.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tigers Split At UMD

The old saying among WCHA fans is "split on the road, sweep at home", and this weekend the Tigers lived up to one half of that, rebounding on Saturday night for a split with the Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth. After suffering a comeback loss on Friday night, CC turned the table on Saturday and won a game that the Tigers were trailing in for two periods with four third period goals. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see or listen to the games this weekend so I can't really say much firsthand about how the Tigers looked. Feel free to comment on this post with your opinions if you did get to see the games.

The result moved CC into a three-way tie for second place in the WCHA, along with Denver and St. Cloud State, both of whom the Tigers will face again this season. The Huskies had a disappointing weekend, snapping their long win streak with a loss and a tie to Minnesota State-Mankato. Another team that had an even bigger streak snapped was Minnesota, who lost their first game since the season opener, 2-1 at rival Wisconsin. Denver didn't play any WCHA games but had a nice sweep of Niagara, solidifying their ranking in the Pairwise. Speaking of the Pairwise, the Tigers are still looking okay, although they will need wins over the second half to keep it that way. CC is currently at 9th, and will have plenty of opportunities to pick up additional quality wins during the second half of the season. One such oppurtunity will be the next WCHA series, when CC travels to Houghton for a series with Michigan Tech, who are low in the Pairwise, but still considered a TUC. After that series, the Tigers face a murderer's row of (the seemingly rejuvenated) Wisconsin, (at) St. Cloud State, and Minnesota.


* Bill Sweatt is now listed as a "limited viewing" player by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau. This is presumably due to time missed this season.

* As much as I'm expecting CC to be a top team next year, I'm getting concerned about goaltending. Drew O'Connell apparently did not have a great game this weekend, and Richard Bachman is really struggling in the USHL. I believe that both these guys will eventually be really good goalies, but I still need some convincing. Neither currently have a save percentage above .900.

* Andreas Vlassopoulos is off to a heck of a start so far this season, with six points in nine games. I haven't had a chance to see him play all that much so far this year, but I'm looking forward to it.

* Despite limited action so far, Billy Sweatt is now second on the team in points per game with .87, behind Jimmy Kilpatrick who has 1.05 per game. Scott McCulloch and Chad Rau are both scoring .83 points per game.

* Is USCHO ever going to update their PWR and KRACH rankings? Really fellas, it's getting embarrassing.

* Minnesota, Denver, CC, and St. Cloud State have all emerged as the top of the WCHA so far, and it should be an interesting fight to the finish as all four of these teams will be playing each other again before the season is over. Denver in particular is about to begin a tough stretch of league play, as they travel to Minnesota and then take on SCSU at home in the next few weeks. Minnesota currently has a commanding seven point lead in the standings, but some stumbles down the stretch could certainly open the door for any of these four teams to take the conference regular season title.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's great to be a Badger fan.

The Badgers B-Ball team beat the Buckeyes 72-69 last night to make it 2 big losses in a row for the vaunted OSU sports programs. While this loss was not as embarassing as the major egg the football team laid playing for the national championship, it wasn't as good of a performance as the score suggests either. The Buckeyes were down by double digits in the 2nd half and had a big rally helped by some poor FT shooting from the Badgers near the end to make the score look closer than it really should have been.

This win undoubtedly cements the Badgers as one of the teams to beat come March/April as this is their 3rd win over a top 15 team. Barring a major tanking or an inexplicable early exit from the Big 10 tourney, they will be a #1 seed in the Midwest Region.

Even though this is THE best Badgers team I have ever seen, or anyone else has for that matter, the Big Ten schedule is not going to be all that easy. Currently there is only 1 team with a losing record (Minnesota, who the Badgers manhandled already this year) while the rest of the Big Ten has a winning % of .725. Wow! Even if the schools are playing cupcakes, that is still a very impressive stat. The rest of the Big Ten is not getting a lot of love given how dominant WI and OSU have been, but this conference could have four 20 game winners easily (WI, OSU, MI and Purdue) and possibly 5 (Indiana). So it's not going to be easy and likely the Badgers will lose 2-3 conference games (on the road, as they simply don't lose at home). It's going to be a fun ride and the Badger faithful should have plenty to be happy about.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

It was fun while it lasted

Last night it was determined that the Bucks will be without Michael Redd for 4-6 weeks. The Bucks had started to get things together and were playing quite well after a poor start. This injury totally ruins it. Yes, Redd is this valuable to the team and no, I'm not making too much of this.

As proof, the team knew Redd would be out when playing Denver and they lost by 12. To Denver. Losers of their last 5. Crud.

If it weren't for the fact that the Bucks are in the pathetic Eastern Conference, the season would officially be over. The Bucks are at the #8 playoff spot right now and will in most certainty fall out of that. Redd is going to miss 16-24 games due to this injury and likely will need another week to get his groove back. That's about 1/2 of the remaining games. This was the season that they could have made some serious damage in the playoffs, I was confident of that. Now, it's just another disappointing season.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Tigers Shut Down By "Hostile and Abusive" Sioux Defense

After shutting out North Dakota on Friday night, CC got a taste of its own medicine on Saturday as the Sioux defense held them to just one goal, and only two shots in the second period. Jack Hillen and Scott McCulloch provided the Tigers' only goals on the weekend, and Matt Zaba was stellar in net with 60 saves on 62 shots. North Dakota's win on Saturday moves them into a tie for 5th in the WCHA with Wisconsin, who took Denver to the woodshed on Saturday after losing on Friday. CC has dropped to 4th behind Minnesota, Denver, and St. Cloud State, although each of these teams has two games in hand on Denver. Next week the Tigers travel to Minnesota Duluth to take on the cellar dwelling Bulldogs. UMD is 4-10-2 in the WCHA and is tied for last place with Minnesota State. Nevertheless, UMD typically plays the Tigers tough and a much needed sweep may be hard to come by.

Denver and Michigan Tech are not playing WCHA games next weekend, instead taking on Niagara and Bemidji State respectively. There are some league matchups to keep an eye on however. Minnesota takes on rival Wisconsin in Madison. Could the winning streak come to an end? Not all that likely, but with Elliott in net you never know. Another interesting matchup will be UAA playing at UND. UND has been terrible at home this year and UAA is fighting for home ice in the WCHA playoffs. St. Cloud State will be playing at Minnesota State, and I would expect a Huskies sweep but you never know. The level of play in general should be much higher next weekend in the WCHA with the return of players from the World Junior Championships in Sweden. About half the Team USA roster seemed to come from the Gophers, and a number of other WCHA schools, including CC, sent players as well.

The Tigers split with North Dakota was not particularly helpful in the quest for an NCAA tournament berth. CC has dropped to 9th in the pairwise rankings, and probably won't be able to get any quality wins next weekend. In the next three weeks, the only TUC that CC will be seeing is Wisconsin, and they are just barely on the bubble. This will make CC's later games against St. Cloud State, Minnesota and Denver all the more important. And unlike last year, don't expect OOC bonus points to help CC at the end of the season. With OOC losses to New Hampshire and Bemidji State, the bonus will not do anything but hurt the Tigers' chances.

One last piece of news: CC recently got a commitment from Steve Schultz, who's been putting up some impressive numbers in the USHL.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Bet is paid - An Analysis

Ahh, there is nothing better in the whole world than starting off a New Year right, isn't there? I know I certainly did. How you may ask? Well my good reader I shall tell you. One may recall several weeks ago, my neighbor Shane made an ill-advised bet with me. To recap, the wager was for the loser to buy the winner a Triple Cheeseburger, fries and a Coke from Fuddruckers and to shovel the winner's driveway. Well, wouldn't you know it, but Shane lost yet again to me as the Packers easily dispatched of the frauds that are the MN Vikings. For those of you keeping track at home, that would be Craig 5, Shane 0 in the bet department.

Ever since the bet was made, there have been literally hundreds of requests to see the pictures from the payout. Well, I am happy to provide these for you.

The first picture would be that of Shane buying me the 1/2 lb, triplecheese cheeseburger, fries and Coke. The second picture would be that myself eating said cheeseburger. MMM MMM good!

Fairly self explanitory here, this would be Shane shovelling my driveway. True, it is not much snow, but I didn't want to put too much stress on the guy, he's kinda fragile.

I got to thinking, why is it that Shane keeps losing bets to me? Simple bad luck? My obvious superior intellect and skill? While the latter is clearly evident, I believe there is more to it. So I did some research and found the following:

NAACP has come out with a study that WI drivers are actually better than MN drivers.

National Endowment of the Arts reported that WI men are better lovers than MN men. Well, that's definately true.

Rotary Club has found that WI is actually safer from terrorist attacks. Good to see that my parents and siblings are safe.

Humane Society has definatively proven that WI sports are far superior and better attended than MN sports. They also found that MN fans are severely lacking in overall knowledge in regards to their teams and sports in general.

Consumer Reports reported that WI men are heartier, healthier and better suited against the elements than their MN counterparts.

Greenpeace has stated that people from WI are on average 78% smarter than their MN neighbors.

Simply fascinating. Good to see what has been known for decades to come to light by independent organizations that Cheeseheads are simply superior to the lutefisk-eating Minnesotans. Now, Shane may say that he was born in WI (which he was) and therefore has all of these positive attributes. Sorry Shane, but you renounced your Cheesehead lineage when you decided to foolishly praise all sports that is MN; and therefore all rights, powers and privileges associated with the gloriousness that is reserved for the children of WI.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Tigers PWR Takes Hit With Home Split Against Bemidji State

The brawl with UAA came back to haunt the Tigers last Friday as a depleted CC squad fell to Bemidji State 3-2. Thankfully the Tigers were able to rebound on Saturday night to the tune of a 5-3 win. CC was handicapped on Friday night by the loss of five players due to suspension, including captains Lee Sweatt and Brandon Straub. Bill Sweatt was also absent as he remains in Sweden with the suddenly rejuvenated Team USA. Despite that, the Tigers outshot the Beavers by a large margin, but still had trouble finishing. The weekend split dropped CC to 10th in the Pairwise Rankings. Bemidji State ran their record against the WCHA to a surprising 5-1-0.

The split was not a great way to start the second half of a season that includes some key matchups - especially at home. In the second half, the Tigers will face talented North Dakota, underachieving-but-still-defending-champs Wisconsin, and juggernaught Minnesota at home. Throw in a game against archrival DU and that's a pretty tough home schedule - but also one that could earn great standing in the rankings if CC is successful in the second half. The Tigers will also face St. Cloud State for the first time on the road.

CC's next series is against North Dakota at home, and is probably even more important to the Sioux than it is to the Tigers. UND badly needs wins to stay in contention for the tournament. The Sioux came into the season highly ranked and expected to compete for a national title this season, but have faltered badly in the first half to the tune of a sub-.500 record. A CC sweep this weekend would likely doom UND to a bottom half finish in the WCHA, while a Sioux sweep would pull them to within one game of .500 in league play.

Some more notes:

* CC's top recruit for next year, Tyler Johnson, has observers raving. His most recent accomplishment was a five point game (two goals, three assists) in a 5-0 win. Thanks to gmf1a of for finding this.

* Kate Crandall of the Gazette writes about Chris Kawano's tough start on Friday night, and also mentions another potential CC recruit. Jeff Foss, of Moorhead High School, is also considering Maine, Boston University, and UMD.

* Potential recruit Rob Bordson, who recently visited CC, has decided to attend UMD instead.

* You can keep up with Bill Sweatt and Team USA at the Tiger Den section of the Gazette, which has really been impressive so far with their coverage of CC hockey. Kudos to Kate Crandall, who's doing a great job.

* CC's freshmen are really doing well so far. Looking at the stats, there's a few who jump out in particular. Brian Connelly (2-11-13) has really exceeded expectations - and with the loss of Brian Salcido before the season, it's a good thing. Billy Sweatt (4-7-11) has also been doing well, although that's in a smaller sample size. I was a little worried about Addison DeBoer coming straight from high school, but he's doing well too with four goals and three assists on the year. Lastly, Dre Vlassopoulos has played only five games so far, but has three points, including his first collegiate goal, which he scored this weekend against Bemidji State. Brian McMillin also notched his first in the same game.

* Brett Sterling is second in the AHL in points, and first in goals.

* Lastly, it's not much of a surprise, but it's great to see Jimmy Kilpatrick, Scott McCulloch, and Chad Rau doing so well after the departures of Marty Sertich, Brett Sterling, and Joey Crabb last year. We needed that. Having defensemen Lee Sweatt and Brian Connelly producing points is a nice bonus as well.

New Year, Same Results

Once again, the Badgers go to the Capitol One Bowl and beat the overhyped-overrated-"superior" SEC Conference by taking out the high-powered Arkansas Razorbacks 17-14.

Last year, the critics thought that Auburn was going to rout the Badgers, instead, it was the other way around. This year, the Badgers were underdogs and again, they won. Time and time again, the Badgers are discounted as a poor team, beneficiaries of playing a soft schedule. Come on, it's not like they're playing the Minnesota Vikings every week. Good teams make bad teams look bad, that's a fact.

Other than 2 big, lucky runs by Arkansas, their offense was bad. Those 2 runs accounted for 1/3 of their total offense for the day. The Badger defense did a great job overall of shutting down the gimmicky offense they run. That junk may have worked in the SEC, but against a disciplined, smart, physical unit like the Badgers, it was as doomed as your average brother/sister wedding that is commonplace in Arkansas.

So, anyone still thinking that Bielema was a bad choice by Alvarez?

See you here next year when the Badgers are once again underdogs in a January Bowl game and once again prove everyone wrong.


Is Sunday night's 26-7 ass-whipping of the Bears the last time we'll see Brett on the football field? I don't know.

What I do know is that this team is better than the media and others give them credit for. They went from 4-12 and left for dead last season to 8-8 with young players producing and a bright future ahead, regardless if Favre retires.

With a projected cap space of about 28M and a decent draft position, the Packers could very well get another 3-4 impact players this offseason and improve on this season's finish, especially in the weak NFC North. The Bears are not as good as their record indicates, everyone knows that. The Vikings have a horrible coach who is alienating his players left and right and is an offensive moron. The Lions, well, they're the Lions. It's not like there is a whole lot to be worried about here.

Favre says that he will make a decision soon, and when he does, I'll comment on it then. I will however leave you with this post-game interview he gave on Sunday night and let you make your own conclusions.