[March 6, 2010] ANOTHER TEAM TO STATE!! Alexandria – 4, Sartell – 1
It all began with a sense of paranoia that only comes from being “the little town on the prairie.” Last year in the section finals, against a Little Falls team that was playing for its 5th straight trip to the state tournament, the MAC in St. Cloud sold out and many parents were not able to get in to see the game. They unfortunately missed what was later described as the greatest hockey game of all time – an OT victory by the dreaded Flyers over our Cards. So this year, apparently to alleviate a repeat of last year’s “difficulties,” tickets were put on sale from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, then the ticket office was closed until 6:00 pm, an hour before game time. Since Sartell fans can throw a stick and hit the MAC, we assumed they would go and gobble up all the tickets during the day – who from Alex would be able to go to St. Cloud hours before game time just to buy tickets? Well, the Super Fans. Joyce and Dave Rogosheske led an advance party with Ruthie and me, and we were able to get tickets for the 12 Super Fans going to the game. We then all met up at Anton’s for pre-game dining, strategizing, and ticket distribution. As it turned out, Alex and Sartell appeared to have similar sized fan bases in the SRO crowd.
This year the Cards went into the tournament as the No. 1 seed – the previous games against Sartell ended in a 5-5 tie and a 4-1 win for the Cards. In three of the last four years, the Cards had lost the section finals to Little Falls – but now the Hanowsky dynasty was finally over for the Flyers. The karma looked good.
The Cards started fast and had the better of the play for the 1st half of the period – and Thomas Williams got an early goal on a beautiful passing play to put the Cards up 1-0. A couple of penalties on the Cards changed momentum – the Sabres had the better of the play through the end of the 2nd period. They got a goal to tie the game in the 2nd period. Finally, in the Cards fans’ minds, the Sabres were called for their one and only penalty in the game, and the Cards got a power play goal from Ashton Gronholz. The Cards led 2-1 after the 2nd period, though the Sabres probably had a 10 shots-on-goal advantage. As President Donley noted at the time, an early goal in the 3rd period be either team would be telling.
26 seconds into the 3rd period, the Sabres turned it over, and Ashton went in solo and put a little flip backhand in over the falling goalie. Everyone on both sides pretty much recognized that was the game. The Cards were now juiced, the Sabres a bit deflated, and the Cards were in control the rest of the game, getting another goal from Thomas. Sophomore goalie Erich Murphy had a terrific game – keeping the Cards in it from the last half of the 1st period and all through the 2nd.
So now the Cards, and the Super Fans (again!), are off to the XCel Center in St. Paul for the state tournament beginning Wednesday! Oh, and weather permitting (after a couple of weeks of beautiful sunny weather, freezing rain is in the forecast today), we’ll head back to St. Cloud tonight to see the girls basketball team in the section semi-finals. The following videos are of the player introductions and the final minute of the game:
[March 6, 2010] Boys’ hockey tournament pairings II
Lest we forget, our boys started the year 7-5-1 – and ended 21-6-1. We ended the season 14-1 – that one loss was 4-3 at Moorhead when we spotted them a 4-0 1st period lead as we were recovering from jet lag. The Spuds, incidentally, lost their section AA final, 2-1, to Roseau.
[Pardon the interruption. As we were about to repair to the winery for Skilly & Duff, a huge roar was heard inside the house. A foot of snow slid off the roof and covered the entire slab in front of the garage door. A half hour of shoveling heart attack snow has cleared the way for escape!]
Here I’ve “borrowed” some photos from the Echo Press – of Kirby Nelson (No. 6) and Aaron Rentchler (No. 12), defensemen, in the Willmar game; of Shanee’ Herd (40) and Alyssa Haugen (8) in the state tournament game v. So. St. Paul; and Angela Christianson and Cara Wood (5) firing up some roundballs against Rocori.
[March 7, 2010] Super Fan Photo Attached
Dear Tom and Ruth,
Thank you so much for supporting Alexandria Girls’ Hockey as Super Fans! My girls just love it when you are all cheering in the crowds. 🙂 I have attached that picture I took of your crew at the EXCEL Energy Center. It’s awesome! By the way, could you get me Joyce and Dave Rogosheske’s address? My girls wrote thank yous to the Super Fans, but I couldn’t find Rogosheske’s address in the phone book. Take care!
~ Chris Kragenbring
[March 8, 2010] Boy’s hockey tournament pairings II
Thanks again for all the pictures and keeping us in the loop…we left for Florida after the girls’ tournament (Michelle Anez’s first plane ride) and returned last night.
We are excited the boys are going to state!! Plan on being a “super fan” and going down on Wednesday…
~ Jeanne Nielsen
[March 12, 2010] OMG, HOCKEY’S OVER!
So, we headed out at oh-dark-thirty yesterday morning, in the fog and rain, for the consolation game at Mariucci Arena on the U of M campus. [Two weeks of beautiful, sunny, above-freezing weather followed by this week of rain has put a real dent in the snow cover. We now have exposed areas of grass in the yard for the first time since November.] Consolation games between two outstate teams on a Thursday morning don’t exactly pack the stands. Anyway, our Cards were taking on Virginia/Mountain Iron/Buhl in the 1st consolation game of the day. VMIB lost the previous day to highly regarded, and No. 3 seed (with a 25-3 record), Hermantown, by a very respectable 2-1 score – so we knew it would be a tough game.
Entering the arena, our first game ever at Mariucci, the gold standard for men’s college hockey, we ran across our cheerleaders expressing their admiration for certain members of our team. Then we again ran into the family Williams – here Abby (wearing her state championship sweatshirt) and her older brother, James, discuss the finer points of backchecking with Vivian as the game was about to begin. The game began with the Cards hair on fire . . .
Within a couple of minutes, both Casey Vangsness and Ashton Gronholz scored – and we had several other good chances. It looked like a blow out. But that early push spent most of the rocket fuel, and VMIB began to find their way. The momentum began to turn and VMIB was able to counter the Cards opening two goals to tie the game, 2-2, at the end of the period. In the 2nd period, the Cards played like they were still in energy recovery mode – VMIB scored on a power play to take a 3-2 lead into the final period.
The Cards came out juiced again in the 3rd and carried the play to the Blue Devils. Several good scoring chances were turned away by their goalie as the Cards continually buzzed their net. Finally, sophomore forward, Garrett Skinner, soloed between two Blue Devil defenders and put a beautiful wrist shot in the upper right hand corner and the game was tied. The momentum was all with Alex now, and we all thought they were certainly going to find a way to win. The Cards controlled the play down to less than three minutes to play. The Cards put another flurry of shots toward the Blue Devil goal, but then, as so often happens, a long rebound led to a break out by VMIB. They put a shot on goal – and then somehow put the rebound through a pile of bodies and into the net. The Cards lost 4-3.
We came away with a totally biased belief that though the Cards lost both games, they were no worse than the 5th best team of the 8 in the tournament. We certainly had the better of the play against VMIB and were better than the other two teams in the consolation bracket. But such is how it goes – they had a great season.
As usual (well, most of the time), we capped off the season with Bob and Viv at Vescio’s (they’ve remodeled the downstairs bathrooms!) in Dinkytown – a several block walk from the Arena and we were soaked puppies by the time we got there. Nothing like a fine Chianti to warm the cockles of our hearts.
Oh, and for the locals, we were able to get back to our regular schedule again last night – Thursdays at SAWA. The entire Douglas County music scene was represented – as well as Donnacha and Holly O’Connor. Now there’s a couple happy to have hockey season come to an end – with just two girls (and a 3rd soon) playing hockey at the U-10 and U-8 levels, they were making nine trips weekly to the hockey arena.
[Erratum: The editor must fess up to never having done a “piece” on the first game of the state tournament – v. Mahtomedi. We lost. They had a superstar defenseman. All I can offer are some pre- and post-game photographic evidence, as follows. 1) The Dittberners meet a family member at the “X” – from Mahtomedi! 2) The Super Fans run into our hero, Abby Williams; 3) Stephanie Sahli, former hockey cheerleader and CEO of the AGC beverage cart was there and was photoed with Robo; 4) On the ice at the “X”; and 5) Post-game nosh at Mort’s where we were met by the HQ:
Kudos to you and your excellent reporting on Alexandria high school hockey (both boys and girls). You have me a real hockey fan again even though I haven’t attended a live hockey game since I attended many Pittsburgh Penguin games at the “Igloo” during their Stanley Cup victories in the early 1990s (it was less than an hours drive from Youngstown, Ohio).
Thanks again for bringing back great memories. Just wait ’til next year, right?