[February 6, 2010] CARDS – 60, Cards – 59
In the 2nd meeting of the year between the 5th-ranked Willmar Cardinals and the 6th-ranked Alexandria Cardinals (I think I got that right), both teams 11-1 in conference (Willmar won at Alex earlier by 2 points in an OT game), our girls basketball team prevailed at Willmar on a lay-up with 3 seconds left by Kate Gearman. We weren’t there (more on that following), but it sounds like it was another barnburner. We got in the car (from the following) just as Dave Harris was announcing the final 15 seconds of the game on the radio. Our Cards had lost three players to fouls, two of our bigs, Angela Christianson (who also fouled out of the first game?) and Alli Haar, and player-of-the-game, Lauren Trumm. Without having heard the game, I assume it was again a game of contrasting styles – our speed v. Willmar’s size (a 6’4″, 6’2″, and 6’1″ front line).
We were at Senior Night for the girls’ hockey game. I had the fun, and honor, of announcing short bios of each of the 7 seniors as they stood, one at a time, in a spotlight at center ice. Then the game began – the last regular season game v. Robbinsdale Armstrong. With the excitement of Senior Night, having played a big and taxing conference game the night before, and with our young goalies going through a crisis-in-confidence period, the Cards came out totally flat and enervated and played probably their worst period of the year. By the time they found their legs half way through the 2nd period, it was too far to come back. The last half of the game was evenly played, but Armstrong came away with an 8-5 victory. Senior Alyssa Haugen, Professor Doctor Colonel Kiehne’s grand-niece (she’s also related to Patty Wicken) had two goals on her senior night. The team has one last game at Moorhead next week, then the section tournaments begin.
[February 10, 2010] Alex – 6, Sauk Rapids/Rice – 2
It was senior night for the Alex boys’ hockey team last night. They faced a very good Storm team that came in with the same number of conference losses as the Cards. And they had a player mindful of Ben Hanowski, the Little Falls star for so many years – he was big and fast, and all the Cardinal dads would yell, “Get on him,” whenever he had the puck. The Cards were a little funky the first half of the game – always seems to be the case on honors nights. They led 3 – 1 after 2 periods, but I thought the Storm had the better of the play. In the final period, the Cards came out on a mission and put the game away with total domination. The win marked their 8th in a row. Of the photos, the one is of the senior high-scoring line of Casey Vangsness, Thomas Williams, and Ross Thompson. That line has been super during this stretch – and were again last night. The team is at home again on Thursday against Fergus.
The Card girl roundballers are on a similar mission. They won their 10th in a row at St. Cloud Tech last night, 74-54. It sounded like most games recently – the Cards race to a big early lead and cruise the rest of the way. They play at Apollo on Thursday.
The girls’ hockey lost their final regular season game at Moorhead, 4-1, last night. That was pretty much to be expected. Now they await the seedings for the section tournament, and they should have a first round home game.
After the game, it was off to Arrowwood as Songbird was making their second appearance there. Led by Spencer Christensen, junior at JHS and son of crack Echo Press columnist, Jo Colvin, the group entertained friends and family alike.
[February 12, 2010] 9 in a row, 11 in a row!
Uffda! Kinda sacked it in today. Must be all the end of seasons’ excitement!
Ruthie & I & Robo & Scarby covered boys’ hockey at the RCC last night. Great game from a fans standpoint. The dreaded Fergus Falls Otters were in town, and we’d heard they had a very good goalie. We could tell that early on as the Cards missed the net on a lot of shots, trying to be too fine. After the first period, the Otters led 1-0 on a power play goal when they knocked in the 3rd rebound. The Cards didn’t like that.
In the second period, the Cards came out flying, particularly after Thomas Williams tied the game on a nice cross-ice pass from Zack Shuck. From there on, it was total dominance by the Cards – but as we said, their goalie was very good. The fans, in unison, began counting aloud the number of shots that hit the pipes as the Cards aimed for the narrowest openings. The Cards finally took a 2-1 on a short-handed break out goal by Ross Thompson – the score at the end of the period. The Otters only had 3 shots in the period – and didn’t have another until about 3 minutes were left in the game.
Nevertheless, the game remained 2-1 throughout the 3rd as the Cards continued to pelt the Otter goalie – they ended with a 3 to 1 shots-on-goal advantage. The Cards got an empty net goal by Williams to make the final score 3-1, the team’s 9th win in a row. They play St. Cloud Cathedral @ 3:30 on Saturday at the RCC.
Meanwhile, the Card girl basketball traveled back to St. Cloud for the 2nd time in 3 days to play Apollo (they beat Tech on Tuesday night). Another blow out win – by 22 points – as they extended their winning streak to 11 games. They have home games Monday and Tuesday (competing against girls hockey section opener – drat!) next week.
Super Fan note: Robo’s son, Chad, finished his 3-year graduate assistant coaching job at Ohio State, and last week got the job as offensive line coach for Bucknell! Congrats to Chad!
[February 17, 2010] Day 5 – the final (finally) day of the celebration
Apologies for the lateness of this report. Due to the voluminous information involved, I did not think I could get it out before it was time for the mall walk. The photographic evidence alone (will require multiple mailings) – oy!
Anyway, the initial options involved Jerry’s Bar & Grill for the “best burgers and coldest beer in town” as a pre-game repast – or staying home for the U.S. v. Russia women’s hockey game. The Super Fans were split and acted accordingly. We watched the U.S.’s 13-0 blowout at home, and then headed for the RCC for the opening of the girls’ hockey sectional – our Cards v. Detroit Lakes. I also was considering trying to catch some of the girls’ basketball game at the high school v. Fergus Falls.
The hockey game started slowly – evenly played through the 1st period as our girls admitted (after the game) to pre-game jitters – a natural phenomenon. But by the time Michelle Anez completed her hat trick early in the 2nd period (her last game ever at the RCC – she will be missed), the Cards were rolling. With contributions from all 3 lines, the Cards rolled to an 8 – 2 victory over the Lakers. We will now play for the section finals, and a berth in the state tournament, on Thursday at Willmar where we will play the surprising team from Morris-Benson, which thumped Fergus, 6 – 1, last night. Morris-Benson only has about 10 players, but they have a 23-2 record this year, including an early season win against the Cards at their place. The Cards out shot them 51 – 13, or something like that, but Morris-Benson has the best goalie in the section, and they play a very physical game. We’re hoping the Cards will really want to avenge that previous game. In the interim, Chef Annen is scoping out potential dining venues in Willmar.
I didn’t make it to the basketball game. It turned out similarly to most of their home games this year – they had a 20+ point led at the half and cruised to a 76-60 win. And the boys hockey team cruised to their 11th win in a row, 6-1, at Rocori last night – they have avenged 3 earlier defeats in the rematches. At this point, it appears that both the girls’ basketball and boys’ hockey teams will be No. 1 seeds in their respective sectionals. This sets up some amazing possibilities, with multiple trips to the Cities, in the next couple of weeks.
So, after the game, we headed to Arrowwood, to wrap up day 5, where Kevin Klimek was performing. We were joined by “hockey couple of the decade,” Sue and Ted Justice. We now have a day of rest before the caravan heads to Willmar.
[February 19, 2010] WE’RE GOING TO STATE: Alex – 3, Morris-Benson – 1
It was nice to go back to Willmar – the site of so many (all?) section championships. As usual, we dined first at the Blue Heron, where the Annens and we were later joined by the Justice contingent.
Then on the arena. First things first. We gathered a group of Super Fans and hockey parents to sing Happy Birthday to my sister Gretchen, who earlier in the day had expressed some “angst” that we would be at an out-of-town hockey game and thus wouldn’t be able to call her last night! 😉
[Thanks to everyone for the rousing Happy Birthday Gretchen to me. Loved it!! ~ Gretchen]
Finally, the game. This was in many respects the most satisfying win of what is now 6 state tournament visits in the last 7 years. The team has 6 very important seniors – and we’re delighted for them to go back to state (several played on the state champion team as sophomores) – but this was also a year of transition, often trying. More and more schools now combine to form girls’ teams – and this year it seemed to really muck up the schedule. We only had 10 home games out of 25 – most of the schools we play, often because of the combining, are class AA teams while we are class A. And we are a young and inexperienced team – 9 sophomores and 7 junior high players. So, it was a .500 season.
And the game was against an amazing Morris-Benson team – they only have 11 players! But they have the best goalie in the section, and I believe their final record was 23-3. Our 3 lines against their 2 lines eventually wore them down. Michelle Anez scored first for Alex – determined to set the tone early. Alex pretty much dominated play throughout – ending with more than a 2-to-1 shots on goal advantage, but M-B has some dangerous players and tied the scored in the 2nd period. A big break came later in the period where during a scrum in front of their net, one of the players accidentally (of course) knocked the puck in for an Alex goal, credited to Beth Rindy. The 3rd period was very intense with just a one goal lead – Alex kept storming their net, and occasionally M-B would break out and threaten our goalie, Stephanie Drown. Steph stepped up and had a terrific game. Late in the game, wee senior defense, Alexis Nielson, did a solo rush the length of the ice and scored on a backhander. That was the game. At the end, the team had the obligatory equipment toss and celebrated with much jubilation! So, now it on to the “X.”
We will return to Alex for a girls’ basketball game Thursday (state tourney hopes there, too). Friday we will be back in the Cities for the next hockey game – it will be at the “X” if the win Wednesday, at Ridder if we lose. Then we will stay for the Augsburg-Gustavus women’s hockey game that evening, featuring Alex players in both sides. If Alex wins Friday, we will likely stay overnight for the Saturday game.
Photos: Karen and Mark Meuwissen, parents of senior defense, Beth Rindy (No. 16), display signs. Super Fans Viv Annen, Ruthie Obert, Sue Justice, and hockey mom, Jeanne Nielsen (senior forward Allie, No. 10) get ready to cheer. And Super Fan Bob Annen discusses the finer points of gourmet cooking with Pat and Stephanie Osterberg.
[Alexis – from the Echo]
[February 22, 2010] As we head into state tournament week . . .
we always look for the story within the story. (OK, I really don’t – it just sounded neat.) As the section final headed toward its end, with Alex clinging to a 2-1 lead over Morris-Benson, suddenly Alexis Nielson (No. 7) got the puck in her own end, skated out along the left boards, crossed into M-B’s end, veered across in front of the goalie, and scored on a backhander. Of course, the Alex fans erupted knowing that goal, with just a couple of minutes left, sealed the invitation to the state tournament. Then I thought – geez, Alexis doesn’t do that very often. We later learned that was her first goal of the season, and only the 2nd in her career. She is a defensive defenseman, a senior co-captain, who has played regular shifts at least since she was a sophomore (on the state championship team) – though she’s not very big, she plays with a feistiness you like in a defenseman.
The Cards do have two defenseman who often take the puck end-to-end with the ability to score – senior Beth Rindy and freshman Shanee’ Herd – knowing the likes of Alexis will be back for defense. I agree with Beth’s dad, recognizing a certain bias on both of our parts, that one would be hard pressed to find 5 better defenseman in the state than Beth (she has played regular shifts since she was an 8th-grader). But she has bad knees, so she unfortunately won’t be playing at the next level – she’ll be going to Bemidji State.
Beth’s job in the M-B game was to keep an eye on Dani Schultz, far and away the leading scorer in the state this year with over 100 points (granted, M-B doesn’t play a big school schedule). As I as said before, M-B had an amazing 23-3 season with only 11 players and were the 2nd leading scoring team in the state behind No. 1-ranked Warroad. They have their 3 top scorers, including Ms. Schultz, and their terrific goalie all back next year – it’s just a numbers game to see if the can replace 4 graduating seniors, and then some.
But on to state. They seeded the top 4 teams, and then blind drew for the 1st round match-ups. Alex couldn’t have done better than drawing the 4th seed, Faribault. Here’s hoping the Cards can take advantage of that!
[February 22, 2010] Oy! The planning! THE PLANNING!
– Bob & Viv – Ruthie has decided an overnight Wednesday will be good; she’ll call you re where to stay!
– Kath, how’s Mort’s about 3:00 – 3:30 on Wednesday (waiting for Super Fan commitments)?
We thought it would be better to get into town early, nosh at Mort’s, then we could get to the “X” in time for the 6:00 game featuring No. 1 seed Warroad, which has been averaging 10 goals a game this year!
If the Cards lose Wednesday, they would play in a consolation game at Ridder @ noon on Thursday (Bob wants to see the 10:00 consolation game anyway because he expects his New Ulm team to be there). If the Cards win, they will play the semi-finals at the “X” at 1:00 on Friday. A nosh after that game, then on to Augsburg to catch the Auggie-Gusty womens’ hockey game. Then, since that will be late, probably another overnight.
Saturday options for the Card girls: Consolation championship @ 10:00am @ Ridder; 3rd place game @ 9:00 at the “X;” or, dare we hope, championship game @ noon @ the “X.”
In between all this, we plan on being back in Alex for the Thursday night girls basketball @ 7:30 v. Rocori.
Also of concern, if the Cards boys hockey team wins it’s opening section game tomorrow night, they would host the section semi-finals @ 7:00 Saturday night v. the winner of Willmar/DL. We haven’t played DL this year, but they have the state’s highest scorer.
So, your planning calendar for the this week is:
Tuesday: Boys hockey sectional – Alex hosting Apollo @ 7:00;
Wednesday: Opening day of girls’ hockey tournament – Cards play Faribault @ 8:00, the best draw we could have received! The Super Fans and any others will have to decide when we’re dining at Mort’s;
Thursday: Girls last home basketball game v. Rocori @ 7:30 (after a late night drive home from the Cities the night before)
Friday: 2nd round girls state tournament – Cards will either be in consolation bracket or semi-finals; Gustavus V. Augsberg girls hockey that evening – Card alums on both team;
Saturday: Undetermined. If Cards out of state, will have gone home Friday night. If Cards still playing, will probably stay overnight for the Saturday game. Card boys may be hosting section semi-final @ 7:00. May also consider the Auggies v. Gusties rematch in St. Peter that night.
And if all that doesn’t fill out your calendar, how about March 13:
– @ 7:00, AAAA, St. Paddy’s for Snowbirds with Skilly & Duff & friends;
– @ 7:00, SAWA, Glory Muse;
– @ 7:00, the 4th of the Central Lakes Concert Association series (we haven’t seen one yet because of conflicts);
– Boy state hockey championship.
[Later] Uffda! I thought that schedule looked a little light!
Kevin Klimek is performing at Arrowwood on Tuesday night again. Since we can sack it in on Wednesday (except for working man, Teddy Hockey), it seems like a good place to go after the boys’ hockey game to celebrate the win!
Sue Hockey confirmed what I thought after perusing team records: You are doing a great job! Not to get ahead of ourselves and “jinx” it, but word on the street is the Cards will win their first game. That puts them on Friday’s schedule. However, it is obviously inconsequential of planning if you are going to the Thursday game anyway. Also, to clarify, the Gustie/Auggie game on Saturday is in the afternoon at 2 pm in St. Peter. Keep up the great work!
Brother Cam (from Irondale) chimed in: The powerful Irondale Knightettes powderpuff hockey team will be in their first round game at the X at 11:00 am Thursday. If you are in town and want to see possibly the two best girl hockey players in the state, Gina MacDonald and Megan Lorance, you might want to check this game out. [So I thought I’d gig him by noting the Cards just handled the highest scorer in the state!]
Even Crazy Dave in Sarasota joined the fray: I’m in a DAZE!!!! If I were in your group, I would need Dramamine…
AGC President: Tom, I’m driving to Sarasota and hide in Crazy Dave’s garage until this is all over. I can’t take the stress. Although the great photo of our past Homecoming Queen helped calm my jangled nerves considerably.
Gretchen Nelson: Mercy!!! How much fun ARE you having? You folks are going to have a breakdown when it’s over or need a whale of a vacation. It’s sunny, warm and the ocean has some pretty hefty waves. Cheer the girls on for me too.
Sue Hockey: Tom, I just received notice that the GAC – Augsburg game time has changed to 5 pm on Friday (read below). If the Alex girls play Friday at 1 pm it doesn’t allow a whole lot of time in between for a relaxing dinner, but does shorten up the day.
We have also received confirmation from Mrs. Skadsberg that she will join the gang at Mort’s. However, since she is also still a working person (see: Teddy Hockey), she may be obliged to flee the scene early. Photo provided, as usual, only because it embarrasses her. 🙂
Oh, and Kevin Klimek will be at SAWA on Thursday – a potential doubleheader for the guy – as we can go there after the girls basketball game for another celebration!
So, for those who wonder why we aren’t snowbirds – there ain’t enough time!
[February 24, 2010] Hockey, winter, and Pat Osterberg!
As if in anticipation of the evening’s event, the first round of the boys’ hockey sectionals, we had a one-day cold snap. I don’t believe the thermometer has dipped below zero all month . . . but last night we were going down to minus 12 with wind chills of 20 below.
So, it was No. 1 seed Alex v. No. 8 seed St. Cloud Apollo. We had a good turnout of Super Fans – Ruthie, Robo, Dusty, Walleye Willy, Teddy Hockey, Scarby & Paige Scarby, and newcomer, and past educator of the children, Jim Pohl. We didn’t expect much of a game – the Cards had beaten the Eagles twice this year, going to running time, 10-3 and 8-0. But as the old saying goes, it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season.
Apollo scored first on a power play when a Card defender lost his stick. Late in the period, of at that point an evenly played game, Apollo had a penalty called on them – and then when they complained, had another misconduct penalty tacked on top of the first one. Not a smart move, because they were in the game then. Well, with the 5 on 3 advantage, Thomas Williams scored to tie the game at the end of the first period.
The 2nd period pretty much mirrored the first. The Cards started getting more shots on goal – but the Apollo goalie was very good, and very lucky. The Eagles scored on a deflection to take a 2-1 lead. The Cards came back with a beautiful back and forth passing play between Garrett Skinner (only a sophomore but we really like him) and Tyler Iverson – with Tyler stuffing the last pass in the corner. Then I believe it was their linemate, Ashton Gronholz, who finally put the Cards ahead, with another assist by Garrett, for a 3-2 lead after 2 periods. But the natives were restless – still way too close a game for our liking.
Apparently, the Cards felt the same way. They came out the 3rd period and blew the doors off. Thomas Williams ended with another hat trick (Paige Scarborough was texting to his older sister, Abby, at Bemidji State, during the game), Ashton had 2 goals, Jordan Domine, another sophomore forward, had 2 goals, Garrett ended with a hat trick in assists . . .
Well, the final score was 9 – 3! (I had predicted 7 – 1 to Annen during the morning mall walk). Next up is Willmar, by seeding a surprise 4-3 winner over Detroit Lakes last night – a Saturday night home game. The Cards and the Cards split this year – they won 3-2 at their place, we won 5-2 at our place – so it figures to be a good game.
After the game, Ruthie and I went to Arrowwood to chill out a bit (and chilly it was!) with Kevin Klimek. Seeing Kevin, I was reminded that Pat Osterberg had mentioned at the Morris-Benson game that he was related to Kevin. Pat is also related to someone in every other picture here (except for those in the hockey photo, as far as I know). That must at least make him an honorary Dittberner!
[“Hotdishes,” with Stephanie Osterberg, a close relative of Pat, on the right.]
Today, we off to the Big Cities for the girls state tournament. We have the late game at 8:00 pm – I may have to take a nap on the trip down. The Annens, Robos, and Justices are known Super Fans going to the game. A further check of team records yielded this interesting tidbit – No. 1 Warroad, with a 24-1 record, beat Sartell 2-1 this year – Alex split a pair of 2-1 games with Sartell!
Hope to have a good turnout at Mort’s @ 3:00 today!
[February 25, 2010] I have an addiction . . .
it is a happy addiction, thank goodness, because there is no known cure. The diagnosis was confirmed today.
We drove down with the Annens yesterday for the start of the girls state hockey tournament. We were meeting fellow Super Fans, Joyce and Dave Rogosheske, who were driving in from their daughter’s place in Fridley, and with my classmate, Kathy [Sherry] Skadsberg, who was driving over from work in St. Louis Park, at Mort’s in Golden Valley @ 3:00. We all arrived within seconds of each other! We had a lovely mid-afternoon nosh of humongous deli portions highlighted by Dave being recognized by the waitress – she was a cashier at a Lupient car dealership in the cities Dave used to frequent.
We checked into our motel and then headed to the XCel Center for the 6:00 game between No. 1 seed Warroad v. Chisago Lakes – an as expected blowout for Warroad. At 8:00, our Cards played No. 4 seed Faribault – we thought we should have been favored, and, as it turned out, we were right. The Cards dominated the first two periods, then overcame an inexplicably flat 3rd period, to hang on for a 2 – 1 victory. Claire Illies (Echo photo, No. 3), our only junior, and a Super Fan favorite because we call her the world’s toughest 80-pounder, got the Cards on the board first in the second period. Michelle Anez scored on a beautiful shot in the 3rd period. With sophomore goalie, Stephanie Drown, heading for a shut out (her best game ever), the Falcons pulled their goalie and got a late goal (several long shots by the Cards at Faribault’s empty net just missed).
Brother Cam, a previous troglodyte regarding girls hockey, and who is now a big fan of his own Irondale Knightettes (as he calls them), also in the state tournament in class AA, joined us for the game – after which we had a lovely evening stroll across St. Paul’s Rice Park for an apres-game beverage. Because it is Minnesota, our waitress has a son playing hockey for St. Thomas Academy and who will play for the Gophers next year.
This morning, we headed for Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus for the consolation game between New Ulm and Hutchinson. Why? Because Bob was driving – and he is a 1956 alum of New Ulm Nunnery. I enjoyed every minute of the game (Hutch has two sophomore super stars who were exciting to watch) and would have for the 2nd game between Chisago Lakes and Faribault if . . . we didn’t have to get back to Alex for a girls basketball game tonight! Then we’re off early in the morning for the XCel again – semi-final games at 11:00 and 1:00 (Cards v. Warroad), followed by a girls college game between Augsburg and Gustavus. Then an overnight for whatever game we will play Saturday.
To Dave Harris: KXRA has been “streaming” the games on the internet – I have heard from friends who listened to the game in Florida and Hawaii. They send a big THANKS;
To Bill Pickett: Will Casey be at Ridder? (The photo of Ruthie and Viv was at Ridder this morning.) [Bill was a Department of Labor colleague in Boston; his niece, Casey, was a Top-25 (in the country) hockey recruit for Northeastern.]
To the Echo: The team celebration photo is from the section final v. Morris-Benson – the paper’s best photo since Ally Teclaw’s running catch in softball. Alex is celebrating a goal accidentally scored for Alex by M-B’s No. 18, Sara Rajewsky, their 2nd best player, who is consoled in the background by teammate Dani Schultz (No. 10), the state’s leading scorer.
Tom, You are the best! As I said to you years ago, you are the un-official Ambassador of Good Will for Alexandria. Dave Harris did a great job with the “streaming” effort. (Many of us worry about losing him to CBS) The victory was fun for all of us to enjoy. Your photos were also a value added ingredient. Keep the ball rollin’ friend Thomas. Go Cards ……..Paul Donley [Never miss an opportunity to post a good review!]