Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ask an Expert: Duluth Edition

Over the summer, thousands of billable hours of consulting work went into how to make this site better. When the results came in, it became abundantly clear that this site needed one thing to put it over the top: less of me.

With that in mind, I decided to ask a few experts a couple questions about their team of choice. First off is Donna Carpenter from Runnin' with the Dogs. RWD covers Minnesota-Duluth's team and is the longest running college hockey blog on the internet(or not on the internet, for that matter). Donna also wrote for the famed Bat-Girl before BG packed up her Legos and went home.

WCH:Matt Niskanen and Mason Raymond both left as soon as the season was over last year, and are now in the NHL. Who's still playing for the Bulldogs?

DC:I didn't know anyone else was on the team. Ever. Oh wait, wasn't Brett Hull on the Bulldogs? And that Canadian with the red hair?
The first person I must mention is RWD favorite Mike Curry, who everyone else is now saying is primed for a breakout season. I knew it all along. I know that goal-scoring isn't what he's there to do, but he's going to pull a Marco Peluso (look him up, people!) and have a great senior season. Fearless Leader Matt McKnight and Assistant Captain Andrew Carroll both had injuries last year that kept them from their true potential. We had some great freshmen who will mature into even better sophomores, and benefit from the more experienced team. Defenceman Josh Meyers may have been overshadowed by Matt Niskanen, but he is going to be a great weapon on the power play. A healthy Jason Garrison is going to be a scoring force from the blueline as well. Alex Stalock (our goalie, he's drafted, you should know who he is!) will score a goal before he graduates.

WCH: Michael Gergen went from scoring 14 goals as a freshman to only 5 as a sophomore. Was there any particular reason for the drop? Do you think he'll be able to rebound this year?

DC:If there is any reason for the drop, I don't know it. If I had to guess, I'd say he wasn't part of a solid line. I think if he were to play with the same guys all year, he'd be unstoppable. There was a lot of line-shuffling last year, which I understand to some extent, Sandelin was trying to change things up to find something that worked, but I might have made some other choices. Like benching people other than freshmen. That being said, EVERYONE is going to rebound this year.

Alex Stalock got a lot of playing time last year, but by the end of the year, was beaten out as a starter by Josh Johnson. How confident are you in Stalock now that the 'Dogs no longer have a safety net in Johnson backing him up?

DC: I don't think Johnson was intended to be the backup for the whole year. I think Coach Sandelin gave him the first half of the season to deal with other things, and then handed him the reins. Johnson then played as we knew he could play. I do think it was beneficial for Stalock to play the entire first half of the season. He'll be more prepared than if he had sat on the bench and watched. However, I wouldn't ever say I am confident in goaltending, unless the goal is literally bricked over, and even then, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle would still be in the back of my mind. Anytime the puck is near the net, I'm stressed out.

WCH: Since going to the Frozen Four, Duluth has had three straight losing seasons and finished 6th, 9th, and 9th in the WCHA. Is Scott Sandelin starting to feel any heat from the natives in Duluth?

DC: Um, maybe a little. Ha. There are people who say, How could we have had two players who are now proving themselves in the NHL and finished 9th in the league?, and they point to the coach as the issue. Then there are those who say we have to have a coach who can recruit Canadian kids, as we won't be able to recruit local talent. I think this isn't the first time in the history of tUMD hockey that we have had 3 straight losing seasons. And 6th in tWCHA isn't that bad, although we should have done much better that year.

WCH:Is there any chance that Duluth ever gets a new hockey arena? When do you think it finally be built?

DC: Well, never say never. But the state government evidently doesn't care what the city of Duluth thinks, since the voters passed a referendum approving a tax to fund the stadium, and yet we are not building one. I honestly don't know the answer, and that frustrates me.

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